Beam me up, Scotty: Holograms predicted to become reality in future of travel

In 35 years, travelers can expect to interact with robots, holograms and Star Trek-like cyber reps instead of humans for their travel needs.

Holidays via virtual reality headsets and fingerprint passports are also expected to transform the travel experience.

These are among some of the predictions that came out of an industry report from Euromonitor, which was presented at the World Travel Market (WTM) trade show in London this week.

In a survey that polled about 1,230 senior executives of the travel industry, more than half (59 percent) agree that robots or holographic images are likely to displace human reps in the resorts of the future.

And though the public isn’t as convinced -- only 13 percent of holidaymakers polled said holograms will be used -- experts point out that the technology already exists, though in a more primitive form.

The iPhone’s virtual assistant Siri, for example, already carries out the tasks of a concierge by directing users to the nearest museum, hailing a cab or making restaurant reservations.

In September, developer IPsoft also launched an artificially intelligent computer system called Amelia, that can understand text and solve problems, and which will be embedded in humanoid robots, researchers point out.

“Androids and holograms being part of everyday life is still science fiction – yet much of the technology is already available so I am sure they will become science fact,”  said World Travel Market’s senior director, Simon Press.

Likewise, another landmark report released from Skyscanner this year also predicts that the future of flying will entail 3D-type chats with holographic images of spouses and children beamed into airplane cabins.

In their ‘Future of Travel 2024’ report, experts predict that airports will be staffed with holograms rather than humans.

The advances in virtual reality technology -- think Oculus Rift -- are also predicted to give virtual travel a larger role in the travel-planning process.

Meanwhile, about half (49 percent) of holidaymakers surveyed in the WTM report are putting their money on fingerprint passports to become standard in 35 years, based on the advances of biometric passports currently in use which store digitized images and biographical information in microchips, as well as fingerprint and facial recognition technology.